October 17, 2009
Another comeback keeps Tech unbeaten at home
Hokies drop Tigers, 3-2, behind Gergen's school-record 37 digs
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Clemson (14-6) 25292421132
Virginia Tech (15-5) 20272625153
  • Cassell Coliseum - 516

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech Hokies have officially become the comeback kids in volleyball. Tech roared back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Clemson, 3-2 (20-25, 27-29, 26-24, 25-21, 15-13), Saturday night in Cassell Coliseum, capping an exciting weekend for the team.

Tech (15-5, 5-4 ACC), who came back from an 11-2 deficit in the second set of a sweep of Georgia Tech on Friday, faced a two-set and 21-14 Tiger lead in the pivotal third period on Saturday, before coming all the way back to take the 3-2 decision against Clemson (14-6, 5-4 ACC).

“It was an amazing momentum swing we had in that third [set],” Tech head coach Chris Riley said. “We were down and the match was almost over. It speaks to the heart of this team when they can come back from that. I thought we were really amazing with not giving [the momentum] back at any point. Once it shifted, it never turned around and it was great.”

Senior Jill Gergen set a Tech individual match record with a career-high 37 digs, while sophomore Justine Record registered a career-high and season team-high 26 kills in the contest. Record also tallied her fourth double-double of the season, adding 15 digs in the match. Sophomore Erin Leaser also set a career high, dishing out 62 assists. Freshmen Jennifer Wiker and Cara Baarendse recorded 15 and 11 kills, respectively, and junior Amy Wengrenovich earned 14 digs of her own.

The match started out slowly for the Hokies. Both squads went back and forth for much of the first set, as neither team could gain more than a three-point edge, until a Record attack error gave the Tigers a 24-20 lead. A service ace from Clemson’s Natalie Patzin sealed the opening frame for Clemson, 25-20.

Set two followed the same pattern as the first period, as again neither team earned more than a three-point advantage, until the Tigers took a 22-18 lead late in the stanza. Tech fought back from the margin though, cutting the cushion to one at 22-21. Clemson reeled off two straight points to push out to a 24-21 advantage, but again the Hokies climbed back and evened the set at 24 apiece. Following two more ties, the Tigers used an attack error by freshman Morgan O’Neill and a kill by Lia Proctor to steal the second set, 29-27.

Tech came out of the locker room sluggish for the early stages of the third set. It appeared Clemson would coast to victory in the period and win the match, as it took a 13-6 lead and extended the margin to 21-14. The Hokies then dug up some of their magic from the previous night and began to chip away. A 5-0 run, pulled Tech within two at 21-19, and after the Tigers won the next point, the Hokies went on a 4-0 run to even the set at 23-23. Tied at 24 all, Record and Wiker combined for back-to-back kills to win the third set, 26-24, and stay alive in the match.

The Hokies quickly took control of the fourth frame, pressing out to a 13-8 lead. The Tigers stayed within striking distance though, until a 3-0 run helped Tech to a five-point cushion at 19-14. Clemson again rallied to pull within one at 21-20, but the Hokies went on a 4-1 streak to put away the Tigers in the fourth period, 25-21.

Tech stayed hot and jumped out to an early 5-1 advantage against the deflated Tigers in the final set. The Hokies carried the lead all the way to 13-9 when Clemson began to recover. A 4-1 run brought Clemson to within one point at 14-13, but a block assist by senior Betsy Horowitz, her team-high fifth block of the night, and Wiker buried Clemson in the stanza, 15-13, and completed another wild Tech comeback in the match, as the Hokies won, 3-2.

As a team, Tech hit .191 and held Clemson to a .172 clip. The Tigers out-blocked the Hokies 13 to nine, but Tech received clutch play from Record, who also added four service aces along with her 26 kills, and Gergen, who tallied a rare kill and assist in addition to her school-record 37 digs, to win the match.

The Hokie victory maintains their unbeaten streak in Cassell Coliseum this season. Tech is a perfect 10-0 at home on the year and has won 12 straight in the Cassell going back to 2008. The Hokies are currently on a five-match win streak.

“You have to hold at home, you have to win,” Riley said.

Tech leaves the friendly confines of Blacksburg next weekend for road bouts with Boston College and Maryland. The Hokies play the Eagles on Friday at 8 p.m., and face off against the Terrapins on Sunday at 1 p.m. Results will be available at hokiesports.com.

For updates on Virginia Tech volleyball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_VBall).

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